Vermont Gubernatorial Candidate May Become Nation's First Transgender Governor
BURLINGTON, VT — August 13, 2018
A former energy company executive from Vermont has a shot at becoming the nation's first transgender governor.
Christine Hallquist says that in the run-up to Tuesday's primary, people are beginning to pay attention to the race, but they are not worried about her status as a transgender woman.
Instead, they just want to know what she can do to help them get higher paying jobs, provide health care for their families, and better educate their children and give free public college education and high-speed broadband access -- even to those who live on remote back roads.
Hallquist said that 95 percent of Vermonters, regardless of their politics, care about the same things: whether their children can afford to live and work in the state, find jobs and afford homes.
"Vermonters are going to elect me on the platform. They are not going to elect me because of the fact that I'm transgender — that's the reality," Hallquist said, conceding: "Obviously, nationwide it's significant, the first transgender governor. It is pioneering."
"That's how I want to be known in Vermont," she added. "Nationally, I want to be known as the first Trans candidate."
Hallquist has gained the support of the Victory Fund, a political action committee that backs LGBTQ candidates across the country. Hallquist's opponent will be environmental activist James Ehlers, dance festival organizer Brenda Siegel and Ethan Sonneborn, a 14-year-old boy taking advantage of a quirk in state law that doesn't require gubernatorial candidates to be of voting age. They both are Democrats. Republican incumbent Gov. Phil Scott also faces elections.
"Because she is open and authentic about the fact that she is transgender, that immediately takes away all the questions, all the whispers, and instead allows people to focus on her personality and what she wants to do," said Elliot Imse, communications director for the Victory Fund. "People are liking what they're hearing and that's what's really cool about Christine."
According to the Victory Fund, there are roughly 200 LGBT candidates, who are expected to be on the November ballot across the country for state and federal offices. It is the largest number that has ever run for office in one election cycle. Among the LGBT candidates are Alexandra Chandler, Massachusetts' first openly transgender candidate for Congress, and Kim Coco Iwamoto, who would be Hawaii's first transgender lieutenant governor if elected.
Vermont is also known as the first state to recognize same-sex unions with its landmark 2000 civil unions law.
Hallquist didn't say how much money she felt she'd need to get elected, but assuming she wins the primary, she plans to start raising money for the general election the very next day.
"We do need to get some money, we do need to run some ads, that will be key," she said.
Hallquist moved to Vermont in 1976. From 1998 to 2015 she worked for the Vermont Electric Co-operative.